A Story of Faith in Action
As prison guards searched her belongings, fear and doubt threatened Ana Machado’s resolve. God had called her to share His Word. He had opened too many doors at the Miami, Fla. correctional facility for her to turn back. What would she find inside? How would the women respond?
“That first day, God provided the strength. He opened so many doors to get to those beautiful souls,” she shared.
When the guards finally allowed Ana and her two friends to enter, they saw hundreds of women standing in line for their evening meal. With nothing to offer but God’s Word, Ana asked each woman if she might be interested in joining a Bible study. Most declined, but one woman in her 20’s hesitated.
Looking over her shoulder, the young woman said, “I’ll come.”
As Ana and her friend Martha talked about Jesus and His love for sinners, the woman sat in tense silence. Encouraged by the group to share, Martha remembers her saying:
“My grandmother was a Christian woman. I just came out of being in solitary confinement for 30 days. I’m one of the most hardened ones in here. In that solitary confinement, I was given a little pamphlet about Matthew, and I was reading the gospel. And when you said you were beginning in Matthew, something pushed me that I needed to go with you ladies. I just need you to explain to me more about Jesus.”
Captivated by the woman’s story, Ana’s fears and doubts dissolved. The “hardened criminal” before her was simply a lost and lonely young woman. Ana, herself, had been lost once, longing for something to give her peace. She knew how it felt to hunger for Saving Grace. With a compassion born of the Holy Spirit, Ana and Martha shared the gospel.
“Will God really forgive me?” the woman asked. “Will He really forgive me for everything I’ve done, for all my crimes?”
Speaking from experience, Ana said “Yes.” In tears, the woman fell to her knees and accepted Jesus as her Savior.
At the end of the study, the woman shared:
“My life has been transformed because of this Bible study and because I have come to know Christ. That first night I was so fearful, now I talk to the others in here, the other inmates, about Jesus. And because I was who I was, I have learned that it’s given me a platform. And they listen.”
Today, Ana continues to share God’s Word with the women in the Homestead Correctional Facility. She is no longer afraid because they have become like family.
“God has showed me through the prison ministry that although they are incarcerated, although they are behind bars, with God they can all find true freedom. They are leading a free life in Christ, even behind bars. This fact alone is so humbling. We became their advocates. When you hear their stories, God softens your heart. You truly learn to listen,” Ana shared.
Through a simple act of obedience, Ana stepped through prison doors. From there, God opened hearts. Each of us has a BSF story to share, and each of us has one that God is writing. How will God use you to impact others for Christ? Where is He calling you to share?